The world's threats are universal like the sun but Ricardo Reis takes shelter under his own shadow. Back in Lisbon after sixteen years practicing medicine in Brazil, Ricardo Reis wanders the rain-sodden streets. He longs for the unattainably aristocratic Marcenda, but it is Lydia, the hotel chamber maid who makes and shares his bed. His old friend ...
The world's threats are universal like the sun but Ricardo Reis takes shelter under his own shadow. Back in Lisbon after sixteen years practicing medicine in Brazil, Ricardo Reis wanders the rain-sodden streets. He longs for the unattainably aristocratic Marcenda, but it is Lydia, the hotel chamber maid who makes and shares his bed. His old friend, the poet Fernando Pessoa, returns to see him, still wearing the suit he was buried in six weeks earlier. It is 1936, the clouds of Fascism are gathering ominously above them, so they talk; a wonderful, rambling discourse on art, truth, poetry, philosophy, destiny and love.
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Publishers Weekly, 1992-02-03 Ricardo Reis meets dead Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa and encounters two women who may be figments of Pessoa's poetry in this extraordinarily nuanced novel. (Mar.) See boxed review, p. 76, for book by Pessoa. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 1990-11-16 Ricardo Reis, ``age, forty-eight, place of birth, Oporto, marital status, bachelor, profession, doctor, last place of residence, Rio de Janeiro,'' returns to his native Portugal in 1936 as Europe rattles toward war. Published to acclaim in Portugal in 1984, this novel--full of poetry and philosophical musings--traffics over many levels: there is the world-weary Reis, coming home (perhaps) to die; there is an aging Europe, on the eve of its worst hours, seen from the peculiar vantage of a tiny country whose soul has removed to Brazil; and there is the great Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa who, though dead, visits Reis in his rooms and in cafes, wryly discoursing about life as seen from the other side. Saramago evokes an unforgettable image of Lisbon--surreal and ludicrous--an odd but affecting mix of elegy and gothic humor. Readers alert to subtleties may suspect that Reis is actually a pen name used by Pessoa, and that the women who haunt Reis--frail Marcenda with the paralyzed hand and Lydia, the maid whom he regularly beds, are figments of Pessoa's poetry finally laid to to rest. This extraordinarily nuanced work alternates a sunlit Borgesian playfulness with darker, more obsessive musings in what is altogether a bravura performance. (Jan.)
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